‘I didn’t realize how fast the fire would get here’: Man searches through rubble of home destroyed by Malden fire

SPOKANE, Wash.– We often see wildfires and other natural disasters strike and never expect them to happen to us.

On Monday night, it did happen to Tim Whisenand, and one day later, we walked with him on the land his house used to stand on.

He walked over piles of rubble and ash which were actually the only remains of certain things in his home like the front room, the kitchen, his front porch and even his bike.

Trees surrounding the home charred yet some were still standing. Whisenand said one of them even fell over and “blew something up” as flames took over his home.

But moments like that, taking in the damage done to a home, we realize the things that we think are important, often aren’t.

It’s not the loss of a kitchen or bicycle that hurts Whisenand.

“That doesn’t bother me,” he said. “What bothers me is I could’ve made better decisions on what I grabbed.”

Whisenand made it out safely before the wildfire burned down his home. but there just wasn’t enough time for him to grab more than a few important documents.

He wishes he could have grabbed those irreplaceable mementos. He has spent decades working internationally as a teacher.

Now, the photos and souvenirs from those experiences are burnt to ash.

“I didn’t realize how fast the fire would get here, so they’re gone,” Whisenand said.

He’s now staying at a nearby hotel for the time being, trying to stay positive in a time of despair.

He often joked and held an optimistic attitude while walking through what used to be his home, which he just moved into 4 months ago.

Whisenand thinks he’ll have the means to rebuild and keep living in the Malden area, but that’s not something every homeowner in town will be able to do.

“I have insurance,” he said. “A lot of people up here don’t… a lot of poor people are gonna be suffering.”

Fire crews told 4 News Now Tuesday no one has been injured in the Malden wildfires. They sent crews early Tuesday morning to look for anyone who may have been trapped, but they found nothing.

The town is still expected to be shutdown for 24-48 hours as crews identify the buildings lost.

READ: ‘The entire town is gone’: Malden devastated by wildfires, most homes destroyed 

READ: Malden man’s home one of 20 still standing in fire’s aftermath